Sir Thomas Hele, 1st Baronet

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Monument to Sir Thomas Hele, 1st Baronet, Flete Chapel, All Saints' Church, Holbeton
Arms of Hele: Argent, five fusils in pale gules on the middle one a leopard's face or

Sir Thomas Hele, 1st Baronet (c. 1595 – November 1670) of Flete in the parish of Holbeton in Devon, was three times elected a Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle, in 1626, 1628-9 and 1640 and once for Okehampton, in 1661-70. He was a Royalist commander during the Civil War. He was created a baronet in 1627.


Hele was the eldest son and heir of Thomas Hele (died 1624) of Flete by his wife Bridget Champernowne, 4th daughter of Sir Henry Champernowne (1538–1570)[1][2] of Modbury, Devon.


In 1626 Hele was elected Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle.[3] He was created Baronet of Fleet in the County of Devon in the Baronetage of England on 28 May 1627.[2] In 1628 he was re-elected MP for Plympton Earl and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years.[3] He was Sheriff of Devon for 1636.[2]

Hele was re-elected for Plympton in April 1640 for the Short Parliament in what appears to be a double return. In November 1640, his place was taken by Michael Oldisworth, but as Oldisworth chose to take up a seat at Salisbury, Hele was returned for the Long Parliament.[3] Hele joined the King at Oxford in 1643 and was therefore disabled from sitting in parliament in January 1644. He was one of the chief commanders of the King's army and took part in the Siege of Plymouth and the defence of Pendennis Castle. He was fined for his actions against parliament at £280 per annum.[2] In 1661 Hele was elected MP for Okehampton in the Cavalier Parliament and held the seat until his death in 1670.[3]

Marriages and children[edit]

Hele married twice:[4]

  • Firstly to Penelope Johnson, daughter and co-heiress of Emorbe (Eniorbe(?)) Johnson of Wigborow in Somerset, by whom he had a son:
  • Secondly to Elizabeth Elwes/Elwayes, da. of Edward Elwes/Elwayes of London. Married 16 July 1632 at Kensington. Step da. of Sir John Curson of Waterperry, by whom he had children as follows:[5]
    • Sir Samuel Hele, 2nd Baronet (died 1675/6), eldest surviving son and heir. In 1668 he married Mary Hungerford, a daughter of Anthony Hungerford of Hungerford Castle in Wiltshire, by whom he had one daughter and sole heiress, Jane Hele, the wife of Sir Arthur Shene, Baronet.[5] As he died without male children the baronetcy devolved to his younger brother Henry.
    • Sir Henry Hele, 3rd Baronet (died 1677), heir of his brother Samuel.[2] He married Susan Eliot, a daughter of John Eliot of St Germans, Cornwall, which family later was created Baron Eliot (1784) and Earl of St Germans (1815). He died without children, when the baronetcy became extinct.[5]
    • John Hele (born 1636), died young;
    • Susanna Hele, died young;
    • Elizabeth Hele, wife of Richard Fowell of Blackhall;
    • Honor Hele (1639-), wife firstly of Gregory Hockmore, secondly of Richard Bonithon of Carelew in Cornwall;

Death and burial[edit]

Hele was buried in All Saints' Church, Holbeton, on 16 November 1670. His elaborate monument survives in the Fleet Chapel, at the east end of the north aisle of the church.[6] The monument has four tiers, populated by effigies of 22 people, all members of the Hele family. On the lowest tier kneel Sir Thomas's two sons, facing each other over a prie-dieu. On the tier above lies the semi-recumbent figure of Sir Thomas Hele, dressed in full armour, excepting helm which rests by his shoulder. His two daughters kneel watching him in prayer, one at his head, the other at his feet. On the tier above him kneel a man and his wife, either side of a prie-dieu, the man on the left, his wife on the right. Behind the man are his five sons kneeling, behind the woman three daughters. On the top tier the arrangement is repeated, with two sons behind the man and four daughters behind the wife. The two uppermost tiers are thought to represent the family of sir Thomas's father and grandfather.

On top of the monument is an escutcheon showing the arms of Hele (very worn). There is no inscription on the monument, but it is probable that the effigies represent Thomas Hele of Exeter, Thomas Hele of Fleet (his son), and his son Sir Thomas Hele who was the first baronet of the family. There is the Red hand of Ulster badge of a baronet in the arms which probably applies to Sir Thomas, the first baronet, but the style is earlier.


  1. ^ Vivian, pp.163,165, pedigree of Champernowne
  2. ^ a b c d e John Burke A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies
  3. ^ a b c d History of Parliament Online - Hele, Sir Thomas, 1st Bt.
  4. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.466, pedigree of Hele
  5. ^ a b c Vivian, p.466
  6. ^ John Stabb Some Old Devon Churches
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Warwick Hele
Sir William Stroud
Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
With: Sir William Stroud
Sir James Bragge
Succeeded by
Parliament suspended until 1640
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
With: Richard Strode 1640
Sir Nicholas Slanning 1640
Hugh Potter 1640–1644
Succeeded by
Christopher Martyn
Hugh Potter
Preceded by
Edward Wise
Josias Calmady
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
With: Edward Wise
Succeeded by
Edward Wise
Sir Arthur Harris, Bt
Baronetage of England
New creation Baronet
(of Fleet)
Succeeded by
Samuel Hele